The eighth Annual Gateway Area Red Cross Luau is set for next Friday, March 30.
The event, which will be held from 6 to 11 p.m. at the Tuscany Special Events Center at Rastrelli’s, has been the organization’s largest fundraising opportunity for the past several years.
Amber Wood, director of the Gateway Area Red Cross, said that her organization subsists entirely on donations from the community. Services provided by the Red Cross, like disaster preparedness and relief and the collection of blood donations, are dependent on outside contributions.
Last year’s Luau raised about $11,000, and Wood hopes for similar results this year.
“(The luau is) a fun way to have an event and kind of highlight the services of the Red Cross,” she said. “The Red Cross has a very critical mission to save lives in our community.”
Though that mission is very serious, Wood said that luau attendees will be in for a fun, light-hearted evening. Music will be provided by local band Coupe DeVille, with additional entertainment coming from a hula dance group. Heavy “Hawaiian-themed” hors d’oeuvres will be available, and a silent auction will be held throughout the evening.
Those feeling especially in-tune with their inner Hawaiian can participate in a Hawaiian costume contest.
“Basically, we encourage everyone to kind of get festive with their attire, to make it fun,” Wood said.
Each year the local Red Cross chapter responds to 30 to 35 disaster situations, most of which are single family fires. Since July, 74 residents have received services from the organization.
The average cost to assist a family of four is around $600. This goes to help pay for food, water and shelter, and to help cover any medical or emotional expenses.
Even when things are quiet, Wood said the Red Cross has plenty to do.
“Even when there may not be a lot of disasters, we’re always working to make sure the community is prepared,” she said.
About 2,400 units of blood, each of which has the potential to save three lives, are collected in blood drives each year. The Red Cross also conducts disaster preparedness training, childcare training and crisis training for area youth.
Tickets for the luau are $35 each or two for $60, and can be obtained by calling the chapter office at 242-5223. Those who cannot attend but wish to support the Red Cross can offer donations, or volunteer their time. Wood said that volunteers are “critical to deliver (the) mission” of the Red Cross.